Are you launching a new strategy, preparing for a merger, implementing a new process, or experiencing a culture change? As leaders, we can’t guide others through change before accepting it ourselves. It’s easy to get caught up in developing the strategy, designing the plans, and building the implementation teams without first taking the time to assess our own preparedness. Like using the emergency oxygen masks on a plane, you have to first take care of yourself before you can take care of others.
When facing organizational change, you should prepare yourself as a leader in 3 ways: by assessing and focusing your mindset, developing the capabilities and resiliency needed to lead yourself through change, and then considering what you’ll need to do to lead others.
1. Focus Your Mindset
Mindset is how you personally think about and relate to change. It’s the perspective from which you’ll approach the change, and what you’ll draw on when guiding your team through change. Ask yourself these questions to ascertain and adjust your mindset:
- What are the opportunities, learnings, and results possible from this change?
- What are the risks of not changing?
- What is the “big picture” vision for this change?
2. Lead Yourself
Leading yourself through change requires developing resiliency and capabilities. Build upon your mindset and identify capabilities to be developed by asking yourself the following questions:
- Do I have an open and flexible mindset? Am I focused on the positive outcome of this change?
- Am I comfortable with ambiguity? How can I stretch myself outside my comfort zone?
- Do I feel resistance or fear around any parts of the change? Do I understand and accept my role in the change process?
- Who can I ask for support? Who can I ask for information or clarification?
- What methods do I have for coping with change effectively? Are they healthy?
3. Lead Others
Leading others through change starts by understanding their perspective, guiding them to the change vision, and helping them to build the needed capabilities and resiliency to successfully transform. Your team needs six critical factors from you as their leader during change:
- Information: Why, how, and what is changing?
- Inclusion: Does your team have buy-in on the vision and planning process?
- Support: What communications and resources will they receive?
- Safety/Security: Have you discussed what’s not changing, to establish anchors during the change?
- Permission: Can they take risks without fear of failure?
- Reinforcement: What tangible and intangible recognition will you provide?
By taking the time to focus your mindset and build the capabilities to lead yourself through change, you’ll be better prepared to lead others.